Tag Archives: rain of toads and other horrors

What Can It Hurt?

My room is crowded with furniture and things, because I live in a small house and I enjoy being surrounded by stuff. Blankets overflow onto mountains of stuffed toys, books cascade across end tables and doll armoires, video game consoles perch on guitar cases. I have four separate wind chimes in one room, three windsocks, two kites, and a toy glider plane.

I also have terrible balance. One day, I tripped over my own pant leg–of course it wouldn’t be over any of the actual clutter, that would make sense. In the infinite stretch of time between losing my balance and actually hitting the ground, I had the presence of mind to really consider my potential landing places. I was initially headed for the doll armoire, both filled and topped with ceramics and glass.

“Not great,” I thought to myself. “What’s in reach to brace against? Window? Mm. That…is not going to hold me up. Death by broken glass sounds unpleasant.

“How about the cat bed? Not occupied by cat. Good start. Is occupied by yarn and, ah, sewing scissors. Questionable. The cover is on them, though. Probably not capable of stabbing me. Okay. Let’s do this. What’s the worst that can happen?”

So I executed a beautiful pirouette and landed on my ass in the cat bed, entirely unstabbed.

Sometimes, that’s the only real question: what can it hurt if I…?

Right now, I’m working out the logistics of quitting my day job and everything that comes after doing so. I’ve written elsewhere about what a fiasco it is. Bad boss, unhelpful coworkers, long hours without breaks, physical demands unsuitable for a body breaking down like mine.

Change scares humans, though, as a general rule. Right now, I’m trying to get past the paralysis that says, no matter how bad it is, leaving will ruin everything. That even this mess has to be better than the unknown.

There’s a game played by those managing their anxiety. Best case, worst case, most likely case. It forces your anxiety to test the logic of its assumptions.

Worst case if I leave my job? I lose my income source and can’t get anyone else to hire me. The writing doesn’t bring in enough to cover my expenses. I lose my health coverage, get substantially sicker, and rack up medical bills. I run through my (surprisingly decent) savings and can no longer help pay the bills. We stop being able to pay the mortgage, lose the property, and die of starvation in our cars in the riverbed.

(Pause to shake and whimper in a corner.)

Best case? I don’t have to answer to an incompetent who can’t do the job I’m saddled with. With my suddenly open schedule and increased rest time, my fatigue and pain improve or at least become manageable. I start spending all that time on writing. I get brave and creative because I’m not constantly on the verge of collapse. I publish frequently, get noticed, make a name for myself, and start making real money. I replace my lost income with money made doing something I love. I stop feeling like a stranger in my own house. I have the time to pursue other creative projects, and my career just keeps growing.

Most likely? I use some of that new free time to job hunt. I still write and publish more. I find another low-income job to help make ends meet. With the benefit of experience, I avoid some of the pitfalls of my current job, like working many hours off the clock. It stays just a job, kind of crappy but not actively harmful to my well being. The writing still starts to pay off, thanks to the increased attention. My career is slow and steady, and I still eventually get to quit having a day job entirely.

Okay, so, really. What can it hurt if I quit? How likely is it that going through the window is unavoidable? How much more likely is it that the worst I will face is scissors with the safety cover on? What sort of balletic moves do I need to pull off in order to minimize the fallout?

(In this metaphor, the best case scenario is one where I spontaneously sprout wings and never have to hit the ground at all. I’ve always wanted to fly. Maybe even that isn’t as unlikely as I fear.)

Implicit in all this is the answer to another question: what can it hurt if I stay and change nothing?

My body. My spirit. My future.

I’m working up the courage to jump, to brace for impact while trying to grow wings on the way down.

@#$%^ Technical Difficulties

Just discovered that the bonus page for mailing list subscribers (*waves*) is…broken? But only sometimes? How long has it been like that? WHO KNOWS?! Why is it like that? EXCELLENT QUESTION!

So. Had to code a new page of html (rather than using a WordPress page) and do the password protection through the main site controls. Which, incidentally, requires me to set up a username as well. So now the link AND the login will be different.

*runs screaming into the distance*

Those of you on the mailing list will be getting the new login details in an upcoming email. I have corrected the information in the message for new members. I have tested it and found it to be working. I have sobbed into my keyboard.

I’ll keep the old page up for those who have bookmarked it, with a redirect to the proper place.

I didn’t know I was signing up to be a web admin when I started telling stories. I might have reconsidered, had I known.

I’m really, really sorry, people. I swear, I’m doing my best.



Half a Lifetime Later, at the DMV

I played the most boring game of Bingo today with the DMV. Now serving. B-zero-three-point-one-four at. The forbidden window. Two and a half hours for a two and a half minute license renewal. The one interesting bit is this: for the first time since getting my learner’s permit, nearly half my lifetime ago, I had my picture taken again. I decided to really look at that old photo before it goes away.

JS at 15 according to the DMVBaby Joyce Doesn’t Know Curls

I come from a family of people with wavy, frequently short hair. My hair, left to its own devices, curls into tight little ringlets ready to strangle passers-by. With no one to guide me, it took until adulthood for me to learn how to take care of curly hair. So Joyce at fifteen had some problems in the this department.

This was about a year after hacking all my hair off for the second time. (I grew it out when I decided I wasn’t going to crossdress any more. I miss passing as a boy, but I would do the hair very differently now.) Now at that agonizingly awkward length between chin and shoulder, I insisted on pulling the top back, because then it would dry straighter. I hated my curls. They just turned to frizz and got everywhere.

Oh, Joyce, sweetheart, you’ll learn. You don’t have to hold so tight all the time to keep things under control. Also, next time you dye your hair, go for a brighter red. Better yet, go for orange. Subtlety is overrated.

Baby Joyce Doesn’t Know How To Smile

If you tell me to smile, I probably already think I am. I have trouble gauging my facial expressions, and “normal” ones don’t come naturally. I taught myself to make faces other people could recognize, which means they tend to be exaggerated. You get nothing or everything. At fifteen, I seldom felt happy enough to show off my Cheshire grin. So this was what I produced when ordered to smile: an awkward, tight-lipped expression that has more in common with a grimace than anything else. That is not a pleased face.

When I get my new license and see the photo, I hope I won’t look like I’m smiling at all to anyone else. I coached myself in the bathroom and car rearview mirrors before going to the DMV. I wanted to get my real smile, the one no one else looked close enough to see for all those years. The slight tilt at the corners, the opening of the eyes, the way even my ears pull up and back to show it. I hope, in the new photo, I see myself.

Joyce, my darling, you’ll learn. You have your own way of doing things. You don’t have to pretend. There will be people who see all the same.

Baby Joyce Doesn’t Hide Well

Oh, the spiked collar. At fifteen, I wore layers, I wrapped my hands in cords and charms, and I wore a spiked collar for maximum “don’t touch me” vibes. You can’t tell in the picture, but I’ve got two, maybe three (month-to-month memories of that time fail me) of my sets of ear piercings. Two years from this point, I would have my neck draped with about six necklaces daily. I wore enough rings to qualify as permanent brass knuckles.

I warded myself and branded myself with all that metal and twine. I wanted to declare my loves, and my allegiances, and my protections. I wanted to be seen and understood. I wanted, with all the terror of being fifteen and lonely, to show the world my heart and have them covet it. The spikes, in retrospect, were hardly adequate protection for that.

Joyce, you half-feral stray, you’ll learn. You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to find bigger stages and louder microphones as time passes. There will be value in showing your heart to strangers through elaborate codes, and symbols, and outright rooftop screaming. (It’s called storytelling, and also the internet. You’ll like them both.)

That, after half a lifetime, remains true.

Migraines: Only Attractive on Paper

Thought I would link you to this little infographic on migraines, because dear gods, my head.

It’s only been for the past few years that I’ve started getting migraines. The first time it happened, I genuinely didn’t believe it was a migraine. Yes, fine, I needed dark glasses and earplugs to be able to tolerate lying still in a dark room. Yes, my head hurt in ways that recalibrated all my pain scales. But I still, in the early moments of it hitting, tried to go outside and function like a human being. I was wrong. About everything. Ever. Ow.

Right now, I don’t in fact have a migraine. I wouldn’t be typing, or looking at a backlit screen, or sitting upright if I did. What I have is three days of fluctuating pain and a creeping sense of doom. If I’m lucky, I can watch what I eat (salt seems to be a thing?), ice my head and neck, and rest, and a few days of feeling awful will be as bad as it gets. If I’m not lucky? Well, migraines aren’t actually fatal, but I’ll wish they were.

I don’t get these often, but if I did, I would seriously want to try this treatment. Hell, I’m tempted to hook my earlobes up to a nine volt (or a car battery) to see if that helps now.